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MT.ELGON OKOA MAISHA OPERATION OF 2008

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba

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Kenya has been sued before the East African Court of Justice over a security operation conducted in Mt Elgon District two years ago. Seeking interpretation and action against the military, the regular, and Administration police, alleged torture victims of Operation Okoa Maisha have accused Kenya of failing to adhere to the provisions and principles of the treaty establishing the East African Community. Through the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (Imlu), a local non-governmental organisation, the victims further want the court to declare Kenya’s failure to promptly investigate and prosecute the people who carried out alleged executions and torture a breach of the treaty. Those sued in the case are the Attorney General, the minister for Internal Security, the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Kenya, the police commissioner, and the secretary general of the East African Community. In the suit, the organisation says that more than 3,000 people were tortured between 2006 and 2008 during attempts to flush out members of the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SDLF). Up to now, it says, the government of Kenya has not investigated the alleged executions, torture, cruelty, and degrading treatment the victims were subjected to. Imlu says the government’s failure to adhere to the rule of law and protection of the human rights of citizens are a threat to the stability of the EAC and achievement of the objectives of the treaty. In addition, it says that it has evidence that 278 people were systematically tortured. A report by Imlu documents cases of disappearances of persons in the custody of both the police and the military. Through the law firm of Kilonzo and Company Advocates, the organisation says that the security forces used excessive force, indiscriminate burning of houses and food stores, raping of women, and indiscriminate arrest of residents during the fight against the SLDF.

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